Day 24 of the Omer

מוֹרֵנוּ הַבַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב אָמַר: כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר אֲשֶׁר הָאָדָם רוֹאֶה אוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ, הוּא הוֹרָאַת הַנְהָגָה בַּעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם. וְזֶהוּ עִנְיַן הָעֲבוֹדָה, לְהָבִין וּלְהַשְׂכִּיל מִכֹּל דֶּרֶךְ בַּעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם.

Our master, the Baal Shem Tov, taught: “Whatever a person sees or hears is a directive for his service of G‑d. This is what Divine service consists of — understanding and deducing a way to serve G‑d from everything [one sees or hears].”1

A Story with an Echo

In the letter from which the above teaching is taken, the Rebbe Rayatz relates that once, when he was strolling with his father, the Rebbe Rashab, he asked him the meaning of the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching.

The Rebbe Rashab answered: “To be able to learn how to serve G‑d from everything one sees or hears is the alef-beis, [the very basis, of our Divine service]. It is not an easy alef-beis. It may even be quite a difficult alef-beis.”

The Rebbe Rashab continued walking for a while, rapt in thought. The Rebbe Rayatz accompanied him in silence, reluctant to disturb his father’s reflections.

After a short while, the Rebbe Rashab stopped and said: “The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything a person sees or hears is a lesson in serving G‑d. So that is a fact.”

They walked home, and the next time they strolled together the Rebbe Rashab explained how one arrives at such an understanding. “When a person feels that this principle is important, it is possible to learn this alef-beis. If a person focuses his attention on matters of Divine service and desires it deeply, this enables him to set his sights on the truth and to attain it.”


The Baal Shem Tov’s principle is not only an inspirational message, but a logical deduction from a fundamental tenet of our faith. Speaking of the purpose of man’s creation, the Sages state:2 “[Everything] was created to serve me, and I was created to serve my Creator.” Since this service is the raison d’être of our creation, it follows that it must encompass every aspect of our lives. And since everything that occurs to a person is directed by hashgachah peratis — Divine Providence — down to the minutest detail,3 it follows that everything that we see, hear or encounter, contributes to our ultimate purpose of serving the Creator.4